“Begging your pardon, Your Majesty, but you wish for me to take a girl from her home with or without her permission, with no regard for her family, community, and livelihood, and bring her back to the palace so that she can work for you and you alone?” Prince Xavier questions his mother, Queen Bêtel, with a good deal of disbelief. He can hardly believe his ears, but the Queen seems to believe that absolutely nothing ought to be amiss with this command.
“Is that a problem?” she inquires testily, not even looking up from the fingernail she is filing into a sharper point. Her entire person suggests absolute boredom and exasperation with the tiresomely humane individuals with which she is surrounded, most notably her son and heir.
“Well, I believe most people would call this kidnapping and indentured servitude, both of which are frowned upon in most societies,” Xavier replies, trying to refrain from being surly.
“Indentured servitude? Kidnapping? What rubbish. I would never suggest such things. It is simply a better job offer than slaving away in whatever unfortunate hovel she currently inhabits, and it is in her best interests to accept, whether she sees it that way or not. As her Prince, it is your Royal Duty to act in her best interests and do as I have commanded you,” the Queen refutes in the tone that one would use to teach an imbecile. Xavier, a very intelligent young man, quivers with anger at the indignity. To refuse her ridiculous demand would be extremely foolish; the Queen would most likely respond by imprisoning him and sending a lesser ranking, less argumentative noble to do her bidding in his place. It would be better for everyone except the Queen if he obeyed her orders, but he is loath to do so.
“Perhaps you are right, Your Majesty. I shall see what I can do.”
“I am always right, you fool. And you will bring her back here to me by midnight tonight.”
“But Your Majesty, it is already noon! I will be lucky to reach the town by sunset! It is practically in Vyrunia!”
“You had best start riding then, hadn’t you?”
“If it pleases Your Majesty, please allow me to take the Duke of Pelanshire with me as an escort, instead of my personal guard.”
“As long as that girl is here by midnight, I don’t care who you go with.”
“You are most gracious. I leave anon.”